Celebrities, including Elizabeth Hasselbeck, Ryan Phillipe and Gwyneth Paltrow, have all gone gluten free, and in turn, turned the spotlight on gluten intolerance. Some say this is just the latest trend to lose weight. Others, know that it’s a serious health concern, while many don’t even know why they feel sick all the time. In fact, the Mayo Clinic states that 1.4 million Americans aren’t even aware they have Celiac disease, which is a more severe health problem. Before we list the signs of gluten intolerance, here’s some background you should know.
What is gluten?
Gluten is made up of two protein components known as “gliadin” and “glutelin.” Like other foods, some people can have allergic reactions when consuming it. While some people have no issue digesting gluten, others can develop one or more severe reactions that affect day-to-day life and overall health. Although there isn’t a cure that can take the symptoms away, you can make changes to your diet to relieve the pain.
What causes this intolerance?
In some people, the gluten protein is treated as an invader, and the body responds by sending out an immediate order to destroy it. When the body is in constant attack mode, health problems develop particularly in the digestive system. In serious cases, the small intestinal lining is harmed, and your immune system is constantly fighting against this allergen.
Like other allergies, you can develop serious health problems when you eat gluten. Avoid it at all times. This can be challenging because gluten is found in wheat, barley and rye, which makes up common, processed food items such as pastas, breads and cereals.
Some of the most tell-tale signs of gluten intolerance are digestive problems including the following:
The overall body also takes a hit. Symptoms include:
- Constant headaches and/or migraines
- Swollen joints and joint pain
- Skin problems including dry skin, eczema and dermatitis herpetiformis
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Numbness and tingling
- Failing dental health
Women, in particular, can have problems with gluten. Problems include:
- Irregular menstrual cycles are common
- Problems with fertility
Gluten intolerance can also affect a person’s state of mind and well being. Signs include:
- Constant fatigue
- Persistent irritability and depression
- Constant inability to focus or “brain fog”
- Children often experience hyperactivity
Diagnosing signs of gluten intolerance
Because gluten allergies mimic so many other diseases, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and fibromyalgia, it can be difficult to diagnose. Doctor’s can now perform a blood test to discover any health problems associated with gluten. In some cases, Celiac disease can also be detected.
You also have the option to purchase a test kit from a provider such as True Health Labs. These kits generally require you to collect your saliva or go to a participating blood draw center, and then mail it to the lab for processing and results. This is a good option if your doctor doesn’t want to perform this test, if your insurance won’t cover it or if you don’t have insurance.
Cutting out gluten from you life will stop all the negative symptoms you experience. A gluten-free diet is actually a healthier way of eating because it is rich in fruit, vegetables and proteins. You can even consume grains including quinoa, millet, buckwheat and corn. Check out the gluten free grocery list for more information.
If you enjoy foods, such as breads and pastas, don’t worry. Many food items are now available as “gluten free,” and health food stores including Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s offer a rich variety of items that can fit your lifestyle.
If you have any signs of gluten intolerance, you can start feeling better fast. By simply going on a celiac diet, you have the potential to alleviate and eventually get rid of painful symptoms — even if you’ve been experiencing them for years.